Five Burning Questions Heading into Training Camp

Written By Bob Cunningham On Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Is Justice ready to take his game to the next level?

With training camp the next big event of the NFL offseason, and not much else going on right now, let's take a look at the issues facing the Eagles for the upcoming season in no particular order.

1. Who starts at right cornerback?

Ellis Hobbs is supposed to be the front-runner heading into training camp, but Joselio Hanson is also seeing some reps with Asante Samuel. Hanson has proven himself to be a very good nickel corner, but probably doesn't have the speed or athleticism to play on the outside.

Hobbs has already played the right cornerback position with Samuel, and played it well, during the New England Patriots' undefeated season in 2007. Hanson, on the other hand, was considered a scrub before he moved inside in the nickel.

In other words, he's probably another Rod Hood -- very good in the nickel, but not great on the outside.

2. Who emerges as the third running back?

Last season it was Eldra Buckley, but he saw limited time as a running back and was mostly a special teams player. This season, however, the Birds have brought in some competition for Buckley in the form of a former league MVP and a sixth-round draft pick.

Martell Mallett, the reigning MVP of the CFL, was signed early in the offseason. He is probably a very long shot to make the team, but signing a guy who was voted as the best player in the entire league, even in the CFL, is worth the minimal amount of money it took to sign him.

Then there's Charles Scott, a sixth-round pick in this year's draft out of LSU. Scott doesn't seem to fit Andy Reid's mold of a running back at all at 5'11", 240 pounds, but there's a lot of buzz around this kid and he's probably the most likely to make the team.

However, if he can't play special teams, he will most likely find himself on the practice squad to make room for Buckley.

3. Who plays center while Jamaal Jackson rehabs?

Currently, there are three candidates for the center position: Mike McGlynn, A.Q. Shipley, and Nick Cole. McGlynn was a fourth-round pick in 2008, Shipley was a seventh-round pick of the Steelers last season, and Cole is a guy the Eagles have been moving around since he came to Philly as an undrafted free agent in 2006.

Cole played center last season once Jackson went down, but was unimpressive, to say the least.

It's believed that McGlynn and Shipley will battle it out to see who mans the position until Jackson is able to return, and it's likely McGlynn wins the job due to his size advantage (6'4", 315 over Shipley at 6'o", 300), and the fact that he was a fourth-round draft pick.

4. How will Jason Peters and Winston Justice progress?

Peters caught far too much heat last season, and Justice didn't get nearly enough praise. Peters, while he didn't play as well as the Eagles hoped, was still their best lineman, by far, and was often blamed for sacks that were actually the fault of Todd Herremans on the inside.

Justice suffered much in the same way Peters did, as several times Nick Cole/Max Jean-Gilles would block the wrong man on the blitz or on a stunt.

I firmly believe another year in the system will help Peters dramatically, he'll play like the best left tackle in the league, and Justice could have a Pro Bowl season if the guy playing next to him is better than last season.

5. Will Stacy Andrews prove to be worth the money?

The Eagles sunk a lot of money into Stacy Andrews last season with no results. Nothing. He played in the season opener, but that was it. From there he was relegated to special teams duty on the field goal team, but even that was taken from him as the season progressed.

He claims it had nothing to do with his recovery from a torn ACL the year prior, but that was obviously the issue as he looked timid moving forward to run-block or planting his leg to dig in and pass-block.

This season, he's got to take the right guard spot from Cole and play well. With a young guy likely to take over at center for the majority of the season, he and Herremans will be counted on even more to man the interior of the line.

If he's unable to play up to the Eagles' expectations, don't expect him to be around in 2011.

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